13 October 2008


As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories. To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America — not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.
-Michael Pollan
Okay, I will admit that I should be working on my 18.01 p-sets right now. But I was checking my e-mail and checking the New York Times website and found this amazing article.

I think it's a really long article, but it makes a lot of good points and has a ridiculous amount of information throughout. Pollan makes a really good point about campaign issues and food production - agriculture really is important and really is being ignored by both sides in the campaign for the White House. While Pollan suggests that a lot of new programs be created to modify the United States food production that I think would probably be somewhat ineffective, I feel he has the right idea. He brings up agroterrorism, which is awesome because it's rarely talked about, and I think it's good that someone in the public eye is calling for a reform of the system that would make our food supply more secure. I really like what he says about ag education and those are some of the reasons I'm planning on going into agriculture for a career (even though I'm a student at one of the only land-grant universities without an ag program...). And he is completely correct when he says that our society "devalued farming" and as a whole still believes that one is better off if they can leave the farm - I've run into this mentality so many places and I find it to be really strange. Minimizing the number of people involved in agriculture seems like a bad idea, and it is. That's less people producing food, which is eventually going to mean less food... And that's kind of a problem, right? It's also a problem that most farmers are over the age of 55. So encouraging more people to go into agriculture, especially those that have a good college education and understand the importance of utilizing good science and technology is definitely a good idea that has not received nearly as much attention as it should. This is not to say that it's being completely ignored - we do have the land-grant university system and FFA - but there are certainly schools that lack these programs or are cutting the ones they have because they aren't seen as a priority. FFA programs tend to be the exception, and never the rule except for some areas of rural America. Obviously there are some changes that need to be made.

A quick sidenote: If you're reading this and you happen to live in Oregon and be in FFA, you need to read this article... I definitely did not cover a lot of things he talks about, and there are a lot of really good facts and suggestions that deal with a number of Parli Pro and extemp topics... Hey, you could even use some of this for, oh I don't know, an Ag Issues topic or something... Anyway, there are a lot of good numbers that would sound quite nice thrown out in a debate or speech. Have fun!


fuzzywombat103 said...

Excellent article. It listed many of the reasons I want to go into sustainable farming after I graduate.

KelseyK said...

... And many of the reasons why I want to go into ag... :)